Be Brave Oh Broken Spectre

The film Broken Spectre was being shown at 180 Strand in London until the 18 December, and then its showing was extended until the end of December. Now it has been extended again into February.

You can find out about it and book here.

Tamara and I saw the film.

If you go, be aware that there are no seats, just a very low brick platform against which you can lean your back. You might want to take a cushion.

The film runs for 74 minutes and it starts with a Yanomami woman speaking out. 

She is standing in a clearing with a man, in the centre of a circle of her people in the Amazon in Brazil. She complains in rhythmic complaints that sounds like a poem with a melody – a repeated, rhythmic complaint – pleasant to hear unless you on the receiving end.

The repetitive rhythm holds your attention because she speaks plainly. She is fired up with hurt.

She complains that she hates Bolsonaro for allowing miners and loggers into the land. It is not their land, she says, but the Government does not stop them entering and destroying the land.

Do not come here and film me and do nothing, she says to the camera operators. Come and help.

After the speech, the film moves to the city, possibly Brasilia, with the tribes camped out and marching and protesting.

The scene shifts to men on horseback, riding at a slow trot along a dirt track. We round a bend and see the land on either side has been burned to the horizon, the trees gone or black stumps.

We join a family of farmers pounding maize, tapioca or something in a small camp. They are not rich. Then we see them setting fire to the land, burning the land to make grazing for cattle, with overhead shots of miles of burned land.

Then to miners in a shallow quarry, firing high pressure water hoses at the exposed ground, panning for gold. We see them adding mercury to the sifted sediment to extract the gold, carelessly poisoning the water downstream. Then to the view overhead of the blasted ground stretching down to the river – knowing that that is where the mercury is heading.

Now we are back in the forest, and the screen is split to show two scenes. In each a man with a chain saw is felling a big tree. It is painful when the tree falls. And then burning, as more land is burned to make way for farming, for cattle.

Protecting The Amazon

The Amazon is one of the world’s largest carbon sinks. It stores carbon. Trees take carbon from the atmosphere as they grow. Trees are made from the air they breathe.

As probably all of us know by now, burning trees releases carbon. Then, the lack of tree and ground cover decreases rainfall and releases carbon from trees that fell naturally in the past. That turns the Amazon from a carbon sink into a carbon releaser, adding more CO2 into the atmosphere.

My wife Tamara says that the Amazon ought to be declared a world resource and protected by world policing, over and above the wants or decisions of any a country within which the Amazon happens to lie.

This idea of world policing of a natural resource is anathema to the idea of sovereign countries and their right to treat their own land as they will. And yet, action on climate change is intent on imposing limits on what countries can do, for the benefit of all. So it is not too far a stretch to prohibit destruction of a resource that benefits the world.


There are those that say the natural world has to justify its existence or make way for man. There are those who take a different view and say we endanger the natural world at our peril.

Who in their right mind asks a tree to justify its existence?

If we ignore it, maybe at some point down the road the fallen tree will get its innocent revenge by releasing CO2 and killing the planet.

We Hope To Be Brave

With climate change, isn’t the main problem that is such a big problem that we don’t know how to tackle it without running our way of life into the ground?

Are we nearer to accepting that we can’t go on like this?

We are all looking for the ‘big solution’ like nuclear fusion that is in the news. And it’s tricky, because we, the human race, built this complex system and we don’t know how to slow it down so it doesn’t eat itself and us in the process – with ugly results.

So tackling things we can do helps us not to be fatalistic – and it puts us in the frame of mind to think about what other ideas we can get behind.

On The Subject Of Bravery

Wouldn’t we all be more brave and more confident if we knew how it all ended?

Even if we knew it would end badly, we could more confidently into the future knowing that there was certainty, even if not a pleasant one.

How much more difficult it is to be brave when when we don’t know what the future will bring. Maybe the trick of it is to imagine the future we want – not the fantasy future but the common future in which we can all live and truly co-exist – and work towards that.

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